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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’empire et le paradigme de la torture

by Lina Sankari

Empire and Paradigm of Torture

Translated Friday 5 September 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

President Barack Obama admitted that his country had had recourse to torture. The admission came before the declassification of a Senate report on the CIA’s interrogatory techniques.

The true face of the totalitarian empire is revealed as the years go by. So-called preventive wars, the illegal occupation of sovereign states, a total disregard for international law, arbitrary arrests, and abusive detentions on the extra-territorial base in Guantanamo… On August 1, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, confirmed the use of torture following the scandals at the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo. After September 11, 2001, he admitted during a press conference, “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.” The much-awaited declassification of a Senate report on CIA interrogation techniques between 2002 and 2006, under George W. Bush, should lift the veil on the enhanced interrogation techniques practiced on people suspected of Al-Qaeda links, according to the Washington Post’s April revelations.

Accusations against the CIA: the torture is as much physical as psychological.

In the 6,300-page report drafted by the Senate Committee on Intelligence, the CIA is also accused of having exaggerated the importance of plots hatched against Washington. Sleep deprivation, simulated drowning, and the humiliating stripping naked of prisoners – the torture is as much physical as psychological. “And when we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line,” Barack Obama explained, while hoping that “we don’t do it again in the future,” without explaining what measures he intended to take. He nevertheless partly justified the method, and warned against “too sanctimonious” retrospection by pointing out that it was “important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell.” According to him, the “pressure” on the security forces was enormous at the time. Nevertheless, in 2005, US Vice President Dick Cheney asked the Republican senators to permit the CIA exemptions for the torture of presumed terrorists, whereas an amendment forbidding “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment had just been adopted.

These acts that violate the international declaration of the rights of man.

These acts come in addition to the violation of the universal declaration of the rights of man, of the UN convention against torture, and of the international pact on political and civil rights. According to Amnesty International, recourse to torture has never been shown to be a reliable way “to obtain information, and moreover it is not usually used for this purpose.” What is more, the organization notes that torture does not limit itself to destroying the victims, but “rots the society which tolerates it and forms the soil for resentment and hatred.” On September 11, 2001, the U.S. empire was in a state of shock about its vulnerability, but right from the summer of 2003, when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, the U.S. population accepted, through its silence, seeing fundamental rights flouted in the name of their protection, just as 54 countries, including 17 European countries shamefully collaborated with the CIA during clandestine transfers of prisoners to “black locations” dedicated to torture, or worse, directly assumed the sub-contracting of the horror on their own soil.

The federal judges again authorized, on August 1, 2014, the intimate search of the 149 prisoners still held at Guantanamo. According to them, this practice is “a reasonable security precaution” aimed at “improving security.” Barack Obama had promised to close this detention center during his first term in office.


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